Pavel Romanovich Popovich (cyrillic Павел Романович Попович) was born October 5, 1930, in the city of Uzin, Ukraine. He graduated from the Air Force Academy and joined the Soviet Air Force. He achieved the rank of Major General. He was selected as a cosmonaut in the first intake in 1960.

He first flight was Vostok 4 launched August 12, 1962. This was the first group flight, with Vostok 3 being launched the previous day. There were problems with the environmental systems on the spacecraft causing the temperature to drop to 10°C and the humidity to 35%. This did not affect the mission objectives being reached. These included colour movies of the terminator between night and day and the cabin interior.

The mission was planned to go for a total of four days. However if Popovich felt that he could not last the full length, he was to tell the ground that he was 'observing thunderstorms'. Unfortunately Popovich did actually see thunderstorms in Gulf of Mexico. The Ground thought he was meaning he wanted to be brought back early and intiated the automatic retrofire systems.

Popovich was then assigned to the lunar landing program. His name appears on several lists that have been produced on the cosmonauts who could have made the first Soviet landing on the moon.

In early 1969, he was to be on the first flight of the Soyuz VI spacecraft. Also on board would have been Gennadi Kolesnikov. Soyuz VI was in response to the American Manned Orbiting Laboratory and was outfitted with a recoilless gun developed by the well known Soviet designer Aleksandr Nudelman. The orbital module and reentry module were swapped around. Installed in the orbital module was military equipment including radar, cameras, radio direction finders and ELINT. And so it could stay in orbit for a month it was powered by RTGs. The spacecraft was cancelled after problems were found in 'cutting' a hatch in the heat shield and after the MOL was cancelled in the US.

Popovich was to be on the third and final circumlunar flight. To be launched in July 1969, he and Vitali Sevastyanov would have flown a free return trajectory around the moon.

He was to be on the first crew to the Salyut 2 (Almaz OPS 1) space station, but after this failed in orbit all the crews were moved to the next space station, Salyut 3.

Soyuz 14 was launched July 3, 1974 carrying Popovich and Yuri Artyukhin to Salyut 3 for a 15 day mission. There they operated the reconnaissance equipment on board and conducted medical experiments on themselves investigating the effects of long term spaceflight.

In all he spent 18 days, 16 hours and 27 minutes in space over two missions.

After leaving the cosmonaut program in 1982, he became the Director of the AIUS* in Moscow.


  • http://www.astronautix.com/astros/popovich.htm
  • http://www.spacefacts.de/bios/cosmonauts/english/popovich_pavel.htm
  • http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavel_Popovich
  • http://www.svengrahn.pp.se/trackind/Vostok3and4/Vostok34.htm
  • http://www.space.edu/projects/book/chapter14.html
  • http://bellsouthpwp.net/r/u/ruzwyshn/HTMLFolder/first.html

*Does anyone know what AIUS stands for?

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